|Hanok, A House that Blends with Nature |
'Hanok' Traditional Korean house --- Kim, Do Gyeong, an expert on Hanok, talks about its superiority. The art of Hanok has a history of more than several thousand years, is nature-friendly, and is the most adequate residential structure according to Korean sentiment.
As an architectural style set apart from western concrete buildings, Hanok is a subject of research for architects all over the world. When building Hanok, the posts are not inserted into the ground, but are fitted into the corner stones.
These scientific methods keep Hanok houses safe from earthquakes. The raw materials used in Hanok, such as soil, timber, and rock, do not cause pollution and are also recyclable. Since these materials are all organic, they do not produce waste either. Soil, which is used to build the walls and floors, is excellent for blocking the burning sunlight during the summer time. The 'Cheoma' is the end of Hanok's curvy roofs. The lengths of the Cheoma can be adjusted to control the amount of sunlight that enters the house.
'Ondol' floors originated in cold northern areas and 'Maru'- floor, which are similar to a veranda, originated in the warm and damp southern areas of Korea. 'Ondol' is a radiant heating system that utilizes a series of heating ducts or flues running under the floor. The origin of Ondol floors can be traced to dugout huts. To block the severe cold of the northern areas, the ancient Koreans used to dig holes that were 1 ~ 1.5M in length, settle a 'Gu-deul' heating system, and get a fire going under the system.
'Agung-I', a hole in which to set a fire, should be located under the Gu-deul so that the flame can stay in place. The hot air from the fire warms up the passages under the floor of Hanok. Residents who live in houses with Ondol floors can enjoy cozy warmth in the winter, and refreshing coolness in the summer. Ondol floors help one to endure the long, cold winters by forming a warm space in the house.
By contrast, Maru floors are elevated to a certain level, which keeps the humidity out by forming an open space. The major function of a Maru is to provide the residents with a place to avoid the blazing heat during the summer. A long time ago, it also served as a place to hold big family events, but nowadays it is used as living room as well as a resting area. Ondol and Maru's are unique living systems that are not found anywhere else in the world. They do not run counter to nature's seasons; rather they show the wisdom of the ancient Koreans' adaptation to nature.
Hanok is designed to fit Korean people's floor-oriented living style. The Korean living style has been proven to be very hygienic, and recently many Western people are adopting it. The Hanok that you can see nowadays were mostly built after the Japanese Invasion of Korea in 1592. Hanok styles have changed through time; Buddhist colors prevailed during the Goryeo Dynasty and Plain colors were popular during the Joseon Dynasty. The yellow, green, blue, and red crockery on roofs served as decoration for Hanok homes.
Several places in Seoul where you can enjoy the essence of Hanok's beauty are: Unhyun Palace, Hangyuseol's House inside Gukmin University, and Hanok Village near Namsan.